You’ve done a lot of period drama but now you’re in a sci-fi story. Does that mean you’ve arrived in the future?

You’d think so but this time I’ve stepped back to the 1960s. It would be nice to think that one day I’ll be doing something in the present day but even though this Electric Dreams story is in the past, with sci-fi you’re in the present and the future as well.

Your story is called The Hood Maker. What’s it about?

The meaning of freedom, the importance of privacy and where you draw the line about how information should be made public. It’s about a world of telepaths and non-telepaths, which causes tension. How far should the telepath skills be used?

Who do you play?

Agent Ross, a detective in a police force/MI5-type organisation. He finds himself caught in the middle because tensions are running high against the telepaths when a new law is brought in against them. He finds himself in a tough spot.

Does it stay faithful to Philip K Dick’s original story?

In the original, public opinion was in favour of the idea that minds should be open to be read by telepaths because if you’re doing nothing wrong, then you have nothing to hide. But in our version that idea is kind of reversed.

The story was written in the 1950s but it’s very prescient…

It is. The other day I was reading about eyeball retina recognition, which is being put into practice as we speak. And there was a story about how you can zoom in on people doing the peace sign in a Facebook photo, or on an iPhone, and the detail is good enough to read their fingerprints, so you can access all kinds of information. You have to be concerned about where that leads.

Of course there are upsides to all the information we have access to now. Have you ever googled a potential date?

I’d like to say that I never judge anyone or read about them beforehand but everyone does that now, don’t they? So of course, yes, I’ve googled a date — I’m only human. But I’ve never had a Facebook page — it just wasn’t for me. All that stuff kind of passed me by.

You have a prominent public profile now. Has your privacy line been crossed?

All the time. People hack into my accounts and put pictures up on Facebook or wherever. You can’t escape that kind of thing.

The Hood Maker sees you co-star with Holliday Grainger, who was also in Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Cinderella. Anything you want to share?

It’s a coincidence, honestly. I don’t have it written into my contract that I must work with her! Though I have to say we have a great time working together. In The Hood Maker we get thrust together at the beginning, though we are from different worlds — she plays a telepath but Ross isn’t one. It’s an interesting dynamic.

The snug fit of your trousers in Cinderella aroused comment. Have you lived that down yet?

No! I still have nightmares. I’ll probably spend my whole career living that down. And the chafing. And I could hardly breathe. Thankfully, in The Hood Maker I’ve got a nice, big, loose coat.

Do you still keep up with Game Of Thrones even though Robb Stark has been killed off?

It’s something I am really enjoying, watching my sisters carrying on the family name — though I have no idea what’s going to happen.

So you’re not the go-to guy for spoilers?

The funny thing is that when I bump into old mates from the cast they want to tell me what’s going to happen but I’m the one who’s going, ‘No! No! No! Don’t tell me!’ because I’m the worst person for keeping secrets.

You’ve played Romeo, the Prince in Cinderella and lusty gamekeeper Mellors in Lady Chatterley’s Lover. That’s quite the studly line-up…

I’ve got a lot to live up to there, haven’t I? I’m really not Prince Charming — or Romeo, come to that. And then there’s Mellors with his wood chopper — he’s in his own world. To be honest, I don’t let that stuff go to my head. You’re too intent on playing the character to think about heart-throb stuff. In the real world [heart-throb casting] is probably not doing me any good. People are constantly disappointed with me when I don’t measure up!

Interviews From 2017

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